I have to reach back to my early days, when I was getting acquainted with my father, just home from the Army. He played the electric Guitar, his first Gibson, purchased from Bellson music store in Moline, Illinois. The multi-talented singer, Pearl Bailey’s father-in-law, owned the music store, and my father cherished that Guitar. We would go to the Sanctified Church of God and Christ, where he played hot licks. People would sing and Holy dance to his rhythms whirling and shouting praises to God dressed in stark white clothing.
I remember my father going to the sandlot down the street early in the morning to teach my brother how to catch the hard balls he pitched. My brother didn’t like baseball, but I did. My father thought after a few fast pitches, I would give up, but the harder he pitched the ball, the more I liked it. At the end of the session, my father complimented me on how well I did, but I could see he was disappointed with my brother’s performance. From that day on, I was not invited to go to the field to learn catching. My dad thought a girl should learn cooking and household chores.
My dad was a great Baseball Catcher. He wore a Monarchs’ uniform in an old picture I used to look at when I was a child. I looked at his hands, and his left-hand distal phalanges were bent from catching hard balls through the years. He was young and handsome in his Monarch Baseball Uniform.
I learned many years later that the Monarchs were a great team from the talented Negro Leagues. They were so good the white Major League teams refused to play them. Many great players got their start in the Negro Leagues, including Sachel Page. My father was one of those unsung great players from years ago. His name was Creal Sinclair Carter. I can’t prove he played with the famous Monarchs of the Negro League, as his name does not appear as a player, but there were many unacknowledged players at the time.
My father moved to Ohio and became a minister and business owner. He owned a restaurant and grocery store on Central in Cleveland. Many people knew him and respected him. I didn’t know why he was so adored by so many in those days. But I know now, my dad was a player known for his baseball skills.
He and his brother, William B. Carter, were exceptional athletes. William was a Prize Fighter, and Creal was a fantastic Baseball player during the thirties and forties. The Great War came, and they volunteered. William chose the Coast Guard, and Creal chose the United States Army. Both Honorably Discharged!
My dad took my brother and me to our first Major League Baseball game – The Cleveland Indians versus the New York Giants. Willy Mays and Sachel Page played that day. It was at the Cleveland Municipal Stadium, one of the largest in America. I will never forget that day, I ate so many hot dogs, and my father never said a word; he just paid the attendant and smiled as I gorged myself!
I looked up to the man who wore the Monarch Uniform! The proof is out there somewhere that he played with the Monarchs; hopefully, it will be found.